Well I just sat down to watch Kiss of the Damned being that I heard fairly good things about it. Mostly B reviews, but some negative too. Still I was definitely interested enough to check out what was supposed to be a stylistic homage of the vampire films of the 1960’s-70’s. From the poster and the way it was being talked about I was expecting something like The Brides of Dracula or Dracula and Son, but what was presented was very different.
Directed by Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes (daughter of John Cassavetes) we get a pretty standard vampire movie.
We meet a lonely young man named Paolo played by Milo Ventimiglia who randomly meets a woman by the name of Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume) one night while out drinking. She tries to resist his advances, but eventually gives in by bringing him back to her home. Soon after he decides he’s in love with her and needs to be with her and quickly after finding out she’s one of the undead he has her turn him while they’re screwing the night away. Yeah, he pretty much finds out vampires are real, nails one and becomes one all within about, I don’t know, an hour. All while not really showing too much emotion about it.
So we have vamp couple Djuna and Paolo running around killing deer and hanging with other vampires who don’t kill humans and it’s all very normal and doesn’t feel very damning at all. In fact everything seems just pleasant. We can live forever and drink animal blood and hey the military is even developing a synthetic plasma and we can drink that too! Yay! Well of course all that gets disrupted when Djuna’s sister Mimi, played seductively by Roxane Mesquida shows up and decides to bunk at their home for a week. There’s bloodshed and orgies and all the other things you’d expect to see in a modern vampire flick, but not too much in the way of that 70’s style I was promised. Though a few of those films are shown on televisions throughout the movie.
Basically this movie was a hodgepodge of things you’ve seen before: True Blood, Interview with a Vampire, Let the Right One In, etc., but never really does anything original. At all. In fact all the people online that seem to love it, just like it for the fact that the vampires are violent, it’s an independent film and “It’s not Twilight.” No it isn’t, but the set-up and love story are very similar anyway, just done a bit better. I’m also noticing the defensive “Well you just don’t get it” argument. No I got it, mostly because it’s a clone of many things I’ve “gotten” before. Supposedly it’s a tongue-in-cheek tribute to previous films, but it’s not done well.
I liked the way it was shot and lit very much and sets/locations were quite lovely, but again, nothing you haven’t seen before elsewhere. Also if the symbolism were any more obvious it’d look like a high school student wrote it. Djuna is blonde and blue-eyed and doesn’t kill humans. Mimi has black hair the dark red lips and screws and drains anyone in sight…
I definitely didn’t hate the movie, but it did move pretty slowy for a 95 min flick and I enjoy a lot of “slow burn” horror. Unfortunately it was a classic example of style over substance. I just didn’t care about the characters. The could’ve all died at the end and I probably would’ve just shrugged.
Aside from the cinematography I also enjoyed the soundtrack. It was a neat mix of electronica, techno, indie rock, German punk, industrial and classical. Each style used methodically and strategically throughout. I also dug the way the characters look when they “vamp out”. I also did like the cast. They all did exactly what they were supposed to. Any flaws were clearly from the direction and writing, not from the actors. All in all, it’s a cool movie to look at and was interesting from time to time, but really adds nothing to the vampire genre. It his a lot of marks along the way, but it never really hits the right one. Right now it’s available in a limited theater run, iTunes and various OnDemand services, but if you’re really interested in checking it out, maybe wait for Netflix or one of the movie channels to start running it.